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  1. Member
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    I happened to stumble upon a JVC HR-S9800 Super VHS deck fairly recently. I tested the loading mechanism in the store and it seemed to work fine, however I haven't tested it with any of my tapes because I haven't cleaned the heads yet. The box included a French manual so I looked for the English version as a PDF, and after reading it, I saw that it says I should only use a "dry cleaning cassette" to clean the heads.

    I have a friend that has helped me clean decks by using a 91% alcohol solution with clean paper sheets (rotating the heads), however I'm not certain we can do that with this one because of what the manual says. Anyone know? Finding cleaning tapes around these parts is impossible now - the only store that had some (a dollar store) closed down many years ago and I've never seen a dry cleaning tape anywhere.

    Thank you for any help.
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  2. Originally Posted by Foxhack View Post
    I have a friend that has helped me clean decks by using a 91% alcohol solution with clean paper sheets (rotating the heads), however I'm not certain we can do that with this one because of what the manual says.
    Your method is better than what the manual says. Even better would be 100% alcohol, but 91% is all I can get here in Hawaii because the pure stuff is volatile and can't be transported here. It's what I use (but with chamois covered sticks) and it cleans the heads nicely.
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    That's good to know. I was worried that the heads would be a lot more sensitive to cleaners than an average VHS deck's.

    Thank you.
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  4. The warning in the instruction book is standard meaningless disclaimer stuff. Even so, unless you've opened this VCR and the stationary heads/guides appear filthy, I wouldn't be running to clean it. Load a tape that you're familiar with that isn't "priceless irreplaceable", and just test if it plays OK. If you don't see any unusual noise or streaking, leave well enough alone. If you do see a problem, try your method with alcohol (or use chamois swabs per manono). These high-end JVC are getting very hard to find in fully operational condition, so the last thing you want to risk is accidentally damaging the heads while cleaning. If you have to, you have to, if not, don't.

    Dirty video heads are unlikely to damage your tapes anyway. With an old JVC, the greater likelihood is a mis-calibrated or drifted transport mechanism physically eating your tapes. But since you say the mechanics seem fine, you should be good to go. Just keep an eye on it: once you start using it a lot, it might manifest transport problems, esp if its been sitting in storage for a long time.
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  5. I'm a Super Moderator johns0's Avatar
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    Really dirty video heads can and will ruin tapes since the tape oxides build up on the rotating drums and causes the tapes to skew and stick.
    I think,therefore i am a hamster.
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    Agreeing with orsetto: don't touch the heads unless there is a problem. However, you should open up the deck and clean the rest of the tape path with alcohol and cotton swabs. (I prefer to use Windex on rubber parts.) Also inspect the pinch roller, which is the part most likely to destroy your tapes. If it's hardened, cracked, or misshapen, it really needs to be replaced.
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  7. Member Krispy Kritter's Avatar
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    I have a JVC S-VHS deck sitting at my moms house. She was using it before for awhile before she upgraded her TV and we didn't reconnect it.
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  8. OMG, do NOT clean the heads unless you have a problem. If you are worried about damage to your tapes, find a tape that you don't care about and play it. Dirty heads are not as common as people seem to think.

    So, bottom line, the old adage definitely applies here: don't fix it if it ain't broke.
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  9. Member Cornucopia's Avatar
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    Depends on the decks' usage. Working in a transfer house, best practice was to clean weekly, if not daily. And some series of tapes would require cleaning after EVERY PASS. Yes they could get that dirty and degrade quality & performance.
    It doesn't hurt the heads IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING.

    Scott
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  10. Originally Posted by johns0 View Post
    Really dirty video heads can and will ruin tapes since the tape oxides build up on the rotating drums and causes the tapes to skew and stick.
    If the tape path and head cylinder look that bad, I'd shy away from the VCR, period: sure indication its been used to death with bad tapes and not maintained properly. I might try cleaning it if its a model I know from experience is worth a cleaning, but a JVC 9800? No way. They're a dice roll even when they look mint, if filthy inside I wouldn't give one to my worst enemy.

    When I said "dirty video heads are unlikely to damage your tapes anyway", I meant suspected (but not proven) slightly dirty or clogged heads of an otherwise internally clean VCR. I have never since 1981 had clogged heads (alone) harm a test tape in either production or consumer environments. When I get a second hand VCR with obviously contaminated drum and arms, then of course I don't bother checking the heads with a test tape: I go straight to cleaning. Invisibly dirty head tips are one thing, a sticky tan residue on the drum and oxide flakes strewn throughout the tape path is another.

    Originally Posted by Cornucopia View Post
    Depends on the decks' usage. Working in a transfer house, best practice was to clean weekly, if not daily. And some series of tapes would require cleaning after EVERY PASS. Yes they could get that dirty and degrade quality & performance.
    They must have been some very important recordings made on some incredibly awful tape stock, or the tapes suffered previous humidity damage. I don't envy you having to deal with that.

    It doesn't hurt the heads IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING.
    Indeed. But many really don't know what they're doing: they just think they do, or they think our advice is overly cautious. If I had a dollar for every idiot who cried to me about destroying their heads using cheap rubbing alcohol and a generic Q-tip in an up-and-down scrubbing motion after I explicitly warned them not to, I'd have quite a few dollars.
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  11. Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Indeed. But many really don't know what they're doing: they just think they do, or they think our advice is overly cautious. If I had a dollar for every idiot who cried to me about destroying their heads using cheap rubbing alcohol and a generic Q-tip in an up-and-down scrubbing motion after I explicitly warned them not to, I'd have quite a few dollars.
    Yup.
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    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    I have never since 1981 had clogged heads (alone) harm a test tape in either production or consumer environments.
    I did once have a 1/2-inch EIAJ tape shed on the hidden surface of the entrance guide and build up enough gunk to start scraping off the emulsion. I stopped the player as soon as the dropout appeared, but the damage was done. Learned my lesson to bake those tapes for a good long time before getting them anywhere near the VTR.
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  13. Baking tapes was only need for certain 1970 tape, which was only used on semi-pro equipment, right? I don't think that tape formulation was ever used for consumer (Beta/VHS/8mm) formats.

    Or am I wrong about this?
    Last edited by johnmeyer; 20th Sep 2016 at 20:00. Reason: typos
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    Yes, this was Sony open-reel videotape from the 1970s. It's backcoated like the troublesome audiotapes that Ampex and Scotch came out with in that decade. I have only seen one backcoated VHS tape in my time, branded Ampex 189. It stopped my deck in about two seconds and left gunk on both VCR and cassette guides that had to be scrubbed off.
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  15. Member Cornucopia's Avatar
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    Many years' (early 70s through mid/late 80s) worth of tapes of a couple different formulations require baking (to reactivate the binder to the magnetic particles and to loosen the lubricant to avoid stickage and hopefully to stabilize mylar backing to avoid stretching). That includes both audio & video tapes, and both consumer & pro formats of different brands.
    Vinyl records may also benefit.

    But again, you had better know what you're doing (or you could destroy the media or worse).
    There are still times & good reasons for paying a knowledgeable, seasoned professional to do it for you.

    Scott
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  16. Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    I have only seen one backcoated VHS tape in my time, branded Ampex 189. It stopped my deck in about two seconds and left gunk on both VCR and cassette guides that had to be scrubbed off.
    Ampex- UGH!! Quite likely the single worst VHS blank anyone ever foisted on an unsuspecting public. Absolutely toxic crap that would fail on first use: every sample, every time. Instant, stubborn head clogs (worst I ever had to deal with), residue coating the whole transport, oxide shedding galore (flakes so bad they obscured the clear tape shell windows after one use). It even SMELLED bad: after five minutes play in a warm VCR it would give off a stench reminiscent of bums in the subway. Loads of people were victimized by it circa 1980-1982 because it was the first big-name "discount" brand that significantly undercut top-selling TDK (in 1981, a TDK SA-120 sold for $13-$16 give or take, Ampex went for $9- $11). Luckily I never encountered Ampex in any pro capacity, or I would have changed career paths even faster. I still have nightmares about Ampex: the only "bad tapes" in my personal library spanning 35 years (aside from a number of dismally poor Hollywood pre-recorded movies that self-destructed just sitting on a shelf, but thats another topic).
    Last edited by orsetto; 21st Sep 2016 at 11:39.
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    Nightmares? You poor thing! In the audio world, we use our noses to detect tapes that likely suffer Soft Binder Syndrome. Take a good sniff when first opening the box, and if it smells like old gym socks, you may have a problem. I was able to deal with this Ampex cassette by extracting the reels and incubating them for eight hours in my trusty Nesco dehydrator.
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  18. I know about smelling movie film for acetic acid smell ("vinegar syndrome"), but I'd never heard of smelling videotape.
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